Gas Prices Continue To Be Difficult Talking Point For Voters, White House

President Biden’s desire to put the U.S. on a path to confront climate change is being hindered by a scramble to lower gasoline prices and reduce inflation before November’s mid-term election.

Biden wants to ween the U.S. off fossil fuels – but reducing prices at the pump requires increased global production of gasoline.

And as the White House is trying to deprive Moscow of the funds it needs to wage war against Ukraine, Biden is pushing countries to stop buying Russian oil and gas. Where, then, will the energy come from? The White House recently greenlighted exporting more U.S. gas to Europe, a step that requires building costly new export terminals that are likely to stay in use for years — even if the current crisis ends.

The Biden administration argues that sky-high gas prices and Russia’s war simply underscore the urgency for the U.S. to shift immediately to clean and renewable energy sources, eliminating the need to buy oil and gas from anyone.

“Ultimately, we and the whole world need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels altogether,” Biden said last month as he announced new steps to lower gas prices.

At least one environmental expert believes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has turned eliminating fossil fuels into an urgent matter of national security.

“It’ll ensure we’re no longer reliant on petrostate autocrats,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, a senior vice president for the League of Conservation Voters. “And it’s clear that we simply cannot drill our way to lower gas prices and energy independence.”

But other energy analysts question that logic, arguing that building mammoth new solar and wind farms is not a viable solution to bring down energy costs immediately. Reducing demand for gas-guzzling vehicles, for example, requires selling millions more electric vehicles and installing tens of thousands of charging stations — steps unlikely to address the cost crunch for consumers right now.

“The Biden administration is walking a fine line,” said Frank Maisano, a consultant at Bracewell LLP, which represents energy companies. “The problem they have is the energy reality we face just doesn’t square with the quick transition that they would like to sell. The reality is it’s going to take longer.”

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